Jan 16

Horne Lake Caves

Earlier I wrote about seeing a sign for caves on the road and stopping – here is the story.  I was north of Nanaimo and drove up to Horne Lake to see the caves. (there are at least four major ones and several less-publicized minor ones).  Some of these caves have been absolutely trampled by people.  In the main cave, there are basically no cave formations other than some flowstone; stalactites etc. have been destroyed (in the main cave, although the others apparently have fared better – I didn’t see them all).  There is one little 6-inch diameter tunnel that has some little formations in it, because they are impossible to reach.  It’s like looking through a telescope.  The rock of the cave seems to be a matrix formed of glacier sediments that have been consolidated, almost like cement.

Despite this, it is really neat and I recommend visiting, specially in an off time.  Anyone who likes caves will like crawling around in there.  And the drive up to the caves in spectacular, with plenty of scenery and opportunities for hiking or fishing.  There is a neat little suspension bridge that you have to walk over on the way there.

The path up to the caves is quite beautiful.

Unlike most attractions in the states, some of the caves are open for an unmediated experience.  There are no doors, sidewalks, or dynamited areas for easy access – just a small crevice in a hillside (with a nice walkway leading up to it) that you scuttle into sideways and begin to explore.

In the warm weather these are the most visited caves in the region, but when I was there – a Monday during bad winter weather – I had the place all to myself.  There were at least 8 inches of snow on the ground, and is was raining slush outside.  Several days of slightly-above-freezing weather had created tons of melt water, so a creek was roaring through the cave.  Water dripped from everywhere – it was like being in a sinking submarine (camera users: beware!).  There were some pretty neat ice formations.

The cave is only 168 meters long, which is good enough to keep you busy for a few hours.  There are a lot of reasons that someone shouldn’t go into this cave – claustrophobia, bad knees, etc.  But otherwise it’s just really cool to explore a real cave with nobody around to tell you where to go or what to do.  Just make sure you bring a few flashlights, in case one fails.  Work gloves are a good idea too.  There is no real way to get lost, because it’s not that complex of a cave, and you can always follow the water out.  But you could hurt yourself very easily by slipping and falling, or by hitting your head.  You can rent a hard hat with flashlight at the park entrance.  note: there was some serious, serious funk in those helmets.  It was the most disgusting thing to touch my body since school lunches.

The next picture is oriented properly, even though it looks skewed.  Look at the creek on the cave’s bottom, you can see that it’s level.

After this tunnel there is a fairly large chamber, maybe 3 stories, but by the time I reached it my camera was in too much danger for me to use it.  I should have brought a tripod and a waterproof camera!

I spent about 3 hours inside.  While deep in the cave I turned off my lights and stood for maybe five minutes until I started to have visual hallucinations.  There is no darkness like a cave, and in this case it was a very noisy darkness because of the roaring water.  Making my way back towards the entrance, I was glad to see some sunlight.

As I made my way back, I reflected that now I knew where all of this water came from!

1 comment

1 Comment so far

  1. spleeness January 16th, 2009 3:18 PM

    you are so adventurous! Not even funk-heavy helmets would stop you. I love it.

    Seriously, it’s really neat to imagine what it must have been like in there, especially with the flashlight off for a few moments.

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